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Thinking Teachers Teaching Thinkers™

Martin Luther King Day is the perfect time to volunteer in service to school or community. As teachers, you serve others every day. TeachersFirst tries to support you in this service this and every day of the year. We all have a dream to see our students (and all students) succeed.


Challenge ready
If you teach elementary or middle school and want a curriculum reinforcement challenge to keep kids thinking, try the TeachersFirst weekly Brain Twister. This mobile-friendly, ten question quiz changes every Friday and is offered in both elementary and middle school versions. If you have iPads, iTouches, laptops, or a computer cluster, the Twister is the perfect activity to refresh concepts across math, language arts, social studies, and science. There are always some current events included, as well. Some teachers use it as an incentive activity. Other teachers use it to reinforce problem solving and cooperation skills. Be sure to include the link on your class web page for kids to try on snow days. (Tip: TeachersFirst members can mark it as a Fav from this review). Find the Twister under Ready to Go on the TeachersFirst home page.


Tips from the Edge
If you use today’s creative web tools, such as online timeline makers or comic creators, you have probably encountered challenges due to school policies or school computer configuration. Sometimes these issues make it hard to manage a classroom of students creating online projects. TeachersFirst Edge reviews (reviews of tools for creating your own online content) always include tips to help teachers and students manage these tools safely and within school policies. Two terrific compilations of Edge tips include this page of general tips about using web 2.0 tools in your classroom and this page to address specific “problems” of some sites, such as student registrations or tracking urls for projects. The TeachersFirst Edge helps you and your students with practical tips and reviews of the best, free tools.


A blizzard of ideas
January is a solid time for learning without the distractions of warm days (or even sunshine, in some places).  This week is Martin Luther King Day.  Soon it will be the 100th day of school. February is Dental Health Month and Black History Month. Find these and other collections in the TeachersFirst Classroom Planning Calendar for just-in-time, trusted resources for any upcoming event.


Speak up!
Have ideas for a great way to use a TeachersFirst resource? Having trouble seeing managing it with a full classroom? TeachersFirst members can share management ideas and more in comments on any review as part of their free membership. New in 2012: We are looking for the most helpful comment of the month. A random drawing from the most helpful comments submitted each month could earn you a prized Thinking Teacher shirt from TeachersFirst.  Use your free TeachersFirst membership now to keep those comments coming! (Note that comments are moderated so will not appear instantly.) *Make sure your email address book for the email address associated with your TeachersFirst membership “trusts” email from addresses @sflinc.org.  If our prize notice goes to junk email, we won’t be able to contact you or send your shirt!


Leaping into Elections
2012 offers Olympics, Leap Year and elections. Now that the primaries are almost a weekly occurrence, don’t miss TeachersFirst’s Resources for Elections to fire up the youthful electorate in your classroom. (We’ll get around to Olympic fun soon enough.)


Lat and long
Geo and Meri are discovering latitude and longitude in Denver this week as they travel on Globetracker’s Mission. If you have never checked out Globetracker’s Mission, why not take a look to see how the “mission” teaches standards-based map skills, geography, and more in an engaging and clever weekly format. The mission may be the perfect solution for you to wrap up a lot of learning in limited social studies time.


Slip on the sweats and slippers -- and LEARN!
Winter is the perfect time for OK2Ask®.  Even if the weather doesn’t cooperate, you can stay warm and toasty while you meet other teachers and learn together. These live, online teacher professional development “snack sessions” are the perfect way to brighten up dark afternoons and evenings. And they are FREE! See the full OK2Ask® schedule. Sign up now:

The Best of the Best: A tour of 6-10 TeachersFirst Editors' Choice resources with in-depth ideas for how to use them; January 23, 2012; Read the details and register

Guided Wiki Walk: Step by step to create your own classroom wiki (TWO session workshop with “homework” between); Jan 30 AND Feb 6, 2012; Read the details and register

Google Docs: A focused workshop on Google docs Forms and Documents ONLY;
Extended session at ONE time; Tuesday, February 21, 2012; Read the details and register



Teacher Poll
How often does your school cancel or delay because of weather? Share your thoughts on the weekly poll on the TeachersFirst home page:


Around the World Once a Week (#xw1w)
XW1W  for the week of January 15: What is your favorite warm beverage? Across the World Once a Week (XW1W) uses microblogging or blogging tools to share responses about everyday life from any corner of the world. The XW1W FAQ page explains it all. Make today’s instant communications an instant learning experience.


Featured Sites
This week in our Featured Sites, find a wide-ranging collection:

  • FOUR great math sites
  • Homonyms
  • A duet of musical sites
  • Instant blogging
  • Copyright-free images
  • Totally awesome timelines
  •  A new map of the U.S.
  • Cool tools

And more. Don’t miss our many additional recent additions from the link at the bottom of the Featured sites page.


May you see dreams fulfilled in the eyes of your students this week.


Your “teacher to go,”
Candace Hackett Shively
Director of K-12 Initiatives